From The President
As universally recognized, beyond income measurements, lack of access to education, nutritious food, health care, employment, water and housing are all indicators of crushing poverty. Though Africa’s impressive economic performance over the past decade has rekindled hopes for the continent’s future, in Nigeria however, despite the impressive economic growth over the last 10 years, unemployment and the incidence of poverty has worsened since 2004. The figures recently released by the National Bureau of Statistics suggest that the incidence of poverty in Nigeria worsened between 2004 and 2010. The report indicates that the number of Nigerians living below poverty line rose from 68.7m to 112.5m (63.7% rise in poverty incidence) during the period while the population rose from 139.2m to 158.6m (13.9% rise in population) over the same period. However, during the same period, Nigeria’s economy grew strongly at an average annual growth rate in excess of 6.6%, making the country the 5th fastest growing economy in the World in 2010 at 7.87% real growth rate. The above represents the paradox of growth in the face of poverty and inequality.
The challenge for Africa and by extension, Nigeria, is to ensure that this paper growth translates into effective poverty reduction, job creation and narrowing inequalities. Today for instance, African youths represent a disproportionate 60 percent of the continent’s unemployed, and of these 40 million youths, 22 million, many of them women, have given up on finding a job. In countries such as Cameroon, Cape Verde, Ghana, Rwanda and Zambia, poverty is at least three times higher in rural areas than in urban areas.
There is no doubt that the perennial chaos and human rights abuses of the gravest kinds which plagued the world in the last five decades have left indelible marks on humanity. In the African region, in addition to the debilitating effect of internecine wars and human rights abuses, the people of Africa continue to suffer incalculable harm from the prolonged effects of hunger, poverty and disease. The AIDS/HIV pandemic and other communicable diseases have ravaged the continent while the nurturing of ethnicism has snowballed into genocide and large scale atrocities.
African governments, leaders and concerned stakeholder continue their search for an environment conducive to freedom, equality, justice and dignity for the people of Africa. Inspired by the great achievements and legacy of the iconic Mandela on the African continent, SOF was established to impact the lives of the underprivileged and underserved, as well contribute immensely to the efforts made by concerned stakeholders over the years.
As we stand at the threshold of a new century, it is not only timely but expedient to conscientiously begin to find lasting solutions and establish inclusive development initiatives that will advance humanity. SOF, in collaboration with other stakeholders will provide a world of equal opportunities for families, women, and youths through our development programs on education, food security, health, poverty reduction, women and youth empowerment.
It is my fervent hope that with your cooperation and support, SOF will attain its set objectives to improve and impact the lives of Africans and Africa at large.